Tuesday, April 12, 2005

D and Seniors

Vitamin D has made several appearances in recent alerts. And with good reason. The cancer prevention provided by adequate vitamin D intake could help you live a long, healthy life. But vitamin D provides other health benefits too. Like keeping bones strong. Early last year I sent an alert about a study that revealed just how inadequate vitamin D levels tend to be in older people who live in high-level care facilities. In a trial of nearly 1,000 subjects over the age of 80, vitamin D deficiency was shown to be a reliable predictor of falls due to muscle weakness and poor bone metabolism created by low levels of the vitamin. These results have been confirmed in a review of studies published in a recent British Medical Journal. This new research concludes that, "Vitamin D deficiency among elderly people is much more common than previously recognized." Geoff Vennine, the author of the review, recommends that housebound elders and residents of nursing homes should aim for an intake of 800 IU of vitamin D daily. Of course, getting enough sunlight exposure is often a challenge for older people, especially those who are unable to get outdoors every day. In fact, most of us, no matter what our age, probably don't get enough daily sunlight exposure to supply adequate amounts of vitamin D. (Your body manufactures vitamin D when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet light.) In the alert "Pumping Sunshine", I listed the best dietary sources of vitamin D; eggs, liver, and oily fish such as salmon, sardines, trout, and tuna. I also mentioned that the best way to supplement with vitamin D is by taking fish oil supplements. In fact, fish oil doesn't contain vitamin D. I should have written instead, "cod liver oil supplements," which provide an excellent source of D. (Thanks, Joe.)

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